The University of Tennessee football team finished up its first spring practice under new head coach Butch Jones. Starting the new position last December, Jones entered the program with a lot of work to do.
Jones is aiming to build the UT football program from the ground-up.
The Vols finished last season with an overall record of 5-7 and went 1-7 in SEC action. Six of Tennessee’s opponents in the 2012 season ended up ranked in both USA and AP polls, and seven of the opponents earned a bid to play in a bowl game.
According to Jones, the process of re-building will begin by working on the players individually.
Standing out for the running backs was redshirt freshman Alden Hill, who rushed for 101 yards on 18 carries in the Vols’ spring game.
The question as to who will be Tennessee’s quarterback is still up in the air. With the loss of starting quarterback Tyler Bray to the NFL, the Vols can only look for hope out of junior Justin Worley or redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman. However, the Vols also signed freshman Josh Dobbs, who has high expectations as a true freshman.
The identity of Tennessee has had its issues, including the suspension of junior running back Marlin Lane. Jones is capitalizing on making sure his team is focusing on their off-the-field identity as well as their efforts on the field. As far as Marlin Lane goes, Jones said that the Daytona Beach native is on his way back to returning to the field.
In Jones’ first season as head coach, he will face four coaches also in their first season; Bobby Petrino at Western Kentucky, Mark Helfrich at Oregon, Gus Malzahn at Auburn and Mark Stoops at Kentucky.
Tennessee’s season opens season on August 31 as they take on Austin Peay at Neyland Stadium, followed by the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers also at home. The tough part is expected to arrive two Saturdays following home action. The Vols will have a two-week stretch at Oregon and Florida.